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A good charcuterie board is party magic: it's fun to look at and to eat, easy to assemble, and once you put together a good one, you're set on appetizers. (Side benefit: A pretty charcuterie platter always racks up the likes on Instagram! And it pairs with wine!)

Here's everything you need to know to put together a perfect one.

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1 Stock up on a solid selection

When you're shopping for a charcuterie board, you'll want to get three to five different types of meats. As with a cheese board, try and mix up the colors, textures and flavors. For instance, spicy coppa, buttery prosciutto, a salty dry-cured sausage like finochietta, and beefy bresaola make a good selection. Look near the cheese section for whole dried sausages and pre-sliced meats in plastic trays, or hit up the deli counter.

2 But only buy what you need

Cured meats can get kind of expensive, and there's no need to go overboard in buying. Aim for about two ounces of meat per person, total.

3 The slice is right

Oftentimes, these meats are rich and salty. So when you're shopping, ask the person at the counter to slice the meat as thinly as possible. If you have a whole dried sausage, cut at least one third of it before you place it on the board, and position a paring knife nearby for people to finish the job.

4 Pick the perfect sides

Accompaniments make charcuterie look and taste even better, so pick up some nuts, dried or fresh fruit, olives, or pickles, plus one or two sauces, like mustard, honey, or tapenade. And don't forget bread and crackers!

5 Consider your serving strategy

Now you're ready to build! You want to use something large and flat as a base: a wooden or slate board provides a nice contrast with the color of the meat, though you could also use a platter or large plate. You'll also want one or two small bowls for your accompaniments and sauces—they'll add visual interest (plus flavor).

6 Consider the composition

To start, arrange your small bowls off-center, and place the meat and accompaniments around them. As you work, think about the overall look: place non-meaty elements like crackers, fruit, and nuts between the various kinds of charcuterie, and change up the look of the meat itself. Gently gather individual slices of prosciutto to create easy-to-eat bundles, fold big slices of salami into quarters, and fan out smaller slices of sliced charcuterie.

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7 Prep it in advance

Don't be afraid to make this a few hours before your party—just cover with plastic and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. (More than a few hours, though, and the meat might start to dry out.) Add any fruit that might brown, like apples or pears, just before serving.